Accordions Worldwide Celebrity Interview, Heinz Gengler
Celebrity Interviews

March 2000, Deutschland
Moderator: Wallace Liggett
Translator: Uli Ebner

Q: Where do you live and where were you born?
A: I have lived since 1935 in Cologne. I was born in Stuttgart, Germany.

Q: Can you tell something about Cologne City?
A: Cologne was built by the Italians (in Roman times) and it is a very nice city. From all over the world, the people come and enjoy sightseeing the old houses and the Cathedral.

Q: Where (and what date) were you born, and did your parents play a part in you becoming involved with music?
A: I was born 25 January 1914. I wanted to learn an instrument.

Q: What kind of instrument can you play and when did you start learning?
A: I play the piano and the accordion and I started learning both at school.

Q: Do you have any memories of your early teachers? Would you like to pass on to our readers some of the points they emphasised to you in your training?
A: My piano teacher was a very autocratic man. He only wanted me to play conservative music.

Q: Do you consider it important for a conductor to have some skill on an instrument?
A: Yes it is important that the conductor have knowledge about the instrument/s and the ways of playing the instrument/s.

Q: What influenced you to take up conducting accordion orchestras?
A: As an accordion pioneer of the 20th century, I started conducting an orchestra of the accordionists I taught, and so it started.

Q: Did you lecture on conducting (at any institute or) at seminars? Could you tell us a little about this, your focus, what you consider most important?
A: I learned my teaching (accordion and diatonic - with button) in 1935 in Trossingen at the HOHNER Fachschule . After that I attended some weekend workshops and studied at the University of Cologne Music Department. It is important that you can perform many different kinds of music for all the people, but always try to play it perfectly (with excellent interpretation).

Q: Would you list for us, what you consider are your most important achievements including those that gave you the greatest personal satisfaction - this could include competition successes, concerts etc.
A: The concert tours to South Africa, Namibia, USA, Brazil and 18 European countries. Also playing at the Rudolf Würthner Musikpreis (it's a festival where you get points from a jury and Gengler has won it with his orchestra several times but not every time).

Q: Over the years, you would have been involved with many famous composers, accordionists and conductors. (Würthner for example?) Please tell us some famous names you knew and your foremost memory of each one.
A: I know all the important accordionists and have seen and talked to a lot of them. Friedrich Haag, Hermann Schittenhelm, Curt Mahr, Hans Rauch, Rudolf Würthner, Hugo Herrmann, Hubert Deuringer, Albert Vossen, Willi Glahe, Willi Gräf .....

Q: Do you know some funny stories about your accordion history
A: There was a lot of adventure at the time of World War II, when I was in Russia. Also the time after the war, driving without licence between the boarder with the old cars.

Q: You are not only a conductor, you have also made arrangements for accordion orchestras?
A: Yes I have arranged and composed a lot of folk music and a lot of songs.

Q: What's you favourite composition?
A: Hungarian Fantasie.

Q: What kind of music from other composers do you like?
A: There are a lot of different types of music that like to play and hear.

Q: Is there or have there been any idols for you?
A: Yes there was Herrmann Schittenhelm.

Q: Who is you favourite accordion player?
A: All my favourite players have now died.

Q: What accordion orchestras have you conducted
A: I started the Orchestra of Cologne in 1935, the Orchestra of the Music-School "Gengler" in Reutlingen and also the Orchestra of Musik - School Dormagen.

Q: Have you given the "musik feeling" to any of your family?
A: I´m the only one playing music in the family.

Q: Apart from music, do you have any other hobbies or interests? Do you see them contributing to your musical success or as diversions that are necessary to balance your life?
A: My other hobby is sport. I play table tennis.

Q: What is your view of the use of electronics in accordion orchestras? Do you see a place for both pure reed accordion orchestras and for accordion orchestras augmented by electronics?
A: The sound of the acoustic accordion must be the dominant sound. The electronic (midi) can fill the sound up, but should not change the sound completely of the orchestra.

Q: You are now retired. What do you wish for the future?
A: I hope I can live the rest of my live peacefully.
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